By Miriam Pawel
Among California’s many distinctions, the state stands out for the minimal requirements it imposes for high-school graduation, among the most lenient in the United States. California is one of a handful of states that require just three years of English and two years of math to earn a high-school diploma.
The last revision to the list of 13 required courses was back in 2003, when state lawmakers added Algebra I. Now, educators and elected officials are engaged in a prolonged pedagogical, cultural, and political debate to amend those requirements again.
In a move more in line with its trendsetting reputation, California is on the verge of becoming the first state in the country to require that every high-school student take an ethnic studies class to graduate.
By an overwhelming margin, the state legislature approved a bill in its 2020 session that would have added one semester of ethnic studies to the requirements for a high-school diploma, ensuring that students study the history and experiences of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans. Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the measure.
The veto was not due to objections to the mandate per se, but to concerns over the unfinished draft ethnic studies curriculum […]